The Carb Struggle

Sometime around June of this year it occurred to me that I had been eating a low(ish) carb diet for about six months.  It also occurred to me that, if I had gotten used to it and was happy with it after six months, it should be smooth sailing to continue with it.

Not so.

I’m going to be honest with you.  I’m heading down that slippery slope again.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that being back at work makes me busier and makes it harder to do the “proper meal” thing, or if it’s the colder fall weather that makes me want to hibernate and ingest mass quantities of carboliciousness (which doesn’t bode well for the upcoming Winnipeg Winter), but either way this is getting harder and I’m getting worse at it.

The thing is, I have every reason to continue with it!  Well, three reasons, anyway:

  1. Lowering my carb intake, and thus my insulin, has led to a pretty dramatic flattening of my bloodsugars.  The bad highs and lows are virtually non-existant now.  I’m very happy with my improved control of my diabetes!
  2. Lowering my carbs has led to my dropping a few sizes.  I wasn’t overweight before and I’m not underweight now, but I have to admit that I’m enjoying my new size.  I have an “ideal weight range” where I want to be, and low-carbing is helping me keep it in that range.  I feel great!
  3. In the process of changing my diet, I realized that I feel better if I don’t eat wheat (it’s the gluten, likely) and I feel better if I eat primarily “natural” foods.  I don’t mean specifically “organic”, I just mean “natural” – fruit, veggies, meat/fish/poultry, etc.  I’m eating foods that are naturally low in carbs rather than buying “Atkins granola bars”, etc.  I have some exceptions, of course, but it’s what I’m striving for.  The result is that my stomach feels better than it ever did before!  I didn’t even realize that it was a problem until I discovered how great it felt to feel better!

I’d say those are three pretty good reasons.  So why am I still struggling?

Three words: I love carbs.

I love them and I miss them.  At first I was substituting with foods that were similar to carbs – celery root for mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash for pasta, grated cauliflower for rice.  It worked for a long time (well, not so long with the celery root), but then I just started getting really tired of them!  I can eat pasta day in and day out, and I can eat rice day in and day out, but I cannot eat spaghetti squash, celery root or cauliflower day in and day out.  I can’t.  No matter how much I try, I will never like these poor substitutes as much as the real thing. 

So, Plan B was to eat some of the “real thing”, but only in small quantities, and then fill up on other things like protein or veggies.  This is still easier said than done.  I try to keep to about 30g of carbs at a meal, and since I like to have some fruit and/or yogurt with a meal, it means sticking to about 15g of carbs with the main course. 

Do you know how much rice makes up 15g of carbs?  Do you know how much gluten-free spaghetti makes up 15g of carbs?  Do you know how much of a baked potato makes up 15g of carbs?  I’ll give you a hint: not much. 

The other complicating factor is that most dinner veggies (e.g. corn, carrots, peas, etc.) have more carbs than you might think, so that limits the rest of the meal if I’m working for 30g carbs total.  I think what I may have to do is keep the fruit and yogurt to breakfast and lunch (when I have a salad), so that I can use my full 30g carbs for the main course at suppertime.  Breakfast and lunch aren’t a problem when it comes to sticking to 30g – it’s supper that kills me.

Part of my problem is clearly the combination of low-carb/gluten-free/natural.  That doesn’t sound like it should be a problem, but if you aim to eat a diet that’s low in artificial sweetener and gluten-free, it’s really difficult to add the low-carb aspect to the mix.  The three don’t go well together unless you’re eating mostly meat and vegetables…which is how I started, and what worked, but also what I grew increasingly tired of.


Regardless, while I”m keeping my breakfast and lunch in check pretty well, my suppers are getting a bit out of hand and I need to reign them in.

The other thing getting out of hand is snacking.  I also blame that on the weather and being busy.  Food is comfort for me.  I wish it wasn’t, but it is.  So I crave food a lot.  The challenge is keeping those “appropriate” snacks on hand – nuts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, veggies, avocados. 

It’s easiest for me when I don’t keep anything in the house that I shouldn’t be eating.  The problem with doing that, though, is that my husband also lives here and I don’t want to force him into eating (or not eating) like I do (or don’t).  He’s a healthy eater, but he needs treats from time to time too! 

The other problem with that scenario is sometims I do need sweet options for treating lows – I don’t always want glucose/dextrose tabs or juice or pop.  I like to stock a bit of “fun” stuff for those low “opportunties”…but then it’s tough to stick to eating them only during lows.

So….as you can see, I’m struggling. 

I’ll let you know when I’ve got it figured out.  (But don’t hold your breath….)


4 responses to this post.

  1. Heading into the winter is the hardest time of year because millions of years of evolution is telling your body to store fat like a caveman and sleep a LOT.

    I try to only eat them for one meal a day. But when I do I make sure htat they are whole grain. I haven’t eaten a bit of white bread, rice or even pasta for years. Try some 12 grain bread and whole grain pasta!


    • Thanks for the suggestion, Scott! My only problem is that I seem to have somewhat of a gluten intolerance so I’ve been avoiding wheat. I do have some gluten-free bread and gluten-free pasta, but they both spike my bloodsugar a fair bit, so I have to keep the amounts down. I don’t think they’re very low glycemic index. 🙂 The best for me has been getting carbohydrate through fibrous fruit and vegetables. But that’s just me.


  2. I totally know what you’re talking about…being diabetic AND celiac together is a recipe for frustration and continual annoyance with foods in general (at least for me it is). I recommend you check out a brand called Kinnikinnick Flax seed bread. It’s found in most regular grocery stores frozen section. It’s gluten free and actually very flavorful and even has the “real” bread texture….I eat a slice of it every morning for breakfast and eventhough I’m pretty sure the package says 16grams of carbs, I always count it as 18grams of carbs just to account for whatever I put on it after toasting it. You may know this already, but kinnikinnick is based in Edmonton, AB (supporting Canadian producers) and is one of the most popular gluten free, nut free brands in North America. Personally I think their foods (all of them) are awesome. I do not work for them, I promise, but I do live in Edmonton and I greatly appreciate the variety they provide to those like me in need of gluten free tasty options.


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